Success Stories: Managing Eye Health in Patients With Diabetes
Living with diabetes can present unique challenges to your health, including an increased risk of developing several eye diseases. There is some good news, though. Many people with diabetes can successfully manage their eye health. Early detection and treatment of eye diseases related to diabetes, such as retinopathy, macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma, can slow or prevent vision loss. If you are a patient with diabetes, we're going to discuss how you can become a success story by taking control of your eye health.
Regular Eye Appointments
Scheduling regular visits to your optometrist or ophthalmologist is crucial to maintaining your eye health. This goes for everyone but is especially true if you have diabetes. Nearly all diabetics will develop retinopathy at some point, and people with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from eye diseases like glaucoma. Often, symptoms (such as blurry vision or trouble seeing colours) will not present themselves right away. As we mentioned, early detection is key to avoiding or delaying eye diseases and vision loss. If you have type 2 diabetes, you should be checked immediately for diabetic retinopathy. For type 1 diabetes, you should be checked within five years of your diagnosis and every year after that. Annual dilated eye exams will allow your optometrist or ophthalmologist a clear view of your eye's inner structures, such as your retina, blood vessels, and optic nerve at the back of your eye.
2. Stop Smoking
Smoking is well known to be hazardous to your health, and your eye health is no exception. Smoking raises blood pressure and blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, making it more difficult to control your diabetes while increasing the chance of developing retinopathy. Smoking can also increase your risks of macular degeneration and cataracts. As a person with diabetes, you are already at higher risk of developing these and other eye-related conditions. For your eyes and general health, try quitting smoking as soon as possible.
3. Manage your blood sugar.
As a person with diabetes, you are probably used to checking your blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in the eye, causing further damage to the retinas or optic nerve. Left untreated, eye damage can lead to vision loss or even blindness. Keep your blood sugar levels within your target range as much as possible.
4. Stay active
Staying physically active helps protect your eyes. Regular exercise and a nutritious diet will help keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check, lowering your risk for eye diseases and vision loss. Aim for half an hour per day of cardiovascular activity, such as walking, jogging, biking, or swimming. Not only will this benefit your eyes, but it will help manage your diabetes, improve your mood, and is great for your health in general!
The thought of losing your vision is scary. Living with diabetes puts you at greater risk of developing eye diseases, but a diabetes diagnosis doesn't mean you are destined to lose sight. There are a lot of success stories of those who have delayed or even avoided eye issues by properly managing their diabetes and scheduling regular eye exams. Talk to your optometrist or ophthalmologist about your risks and treatment plans.